Dear Sound off,
I would like to publicly respond to Mark Peterson's letter to the Sound Off regarding the ethics hearing of Representative Priscilla Giddings. First, I have already privately discussed these points directly with Mark. He and I both serve on the Cassia County Central Committee, and I consider him a friend and political mentor. We have differing views on this matter, and we discussed these points in our private conversation. In the end, I feel zero animosity towards Mark and I hope he feels none with me.
First, I believe that as the local leaders of the Republican Party it is our duty to assist and advise our local elected officials. As I have looked at the origins of the Representative Giddings ethics complaint, I am highly concerned that a trap is being laid by democratic political forces to snare our republican legislators. The circumstances surrounding the young woman who filed the complaint are very suspect. She was a volunteer, not an employee (which makes a big difference in the application of whistleblower law which was cited numerous times in the hearing), and her reasons and financial backing allowing her to even be at the capitol are fuzzy at best. What also amazes me is her ability, as a 19-year-old volunteer, to garner the full attention of a generally liberal media and get her complaints through a house ethics committee process so quickly. Her legal case, however, which in my mind should have been foremost in importance for obtaining justice, is only now moving forward, months later. In addition, many of the groups supporting her case, like The Idaho 97% Project, are known enemies to the Republican Party, yet somehow are magically aligning and pushing our representatives in their pursuit of this supposed ethics violation. Does anyone else smell something fishy? While I would love to think of this young woman as innocently as I think of Mark's daughter, the facts don’t support that conclusion.
Let's also consider that in the last year the Democratic party has moved millions of dollars into our state, they are opening offices in every major Idaho city, and they are hiring full time staff members to bring liberal, chaotic indoctrination to a town near you. This story also contains two of their best known methods of destroying republican opponents: discredit their character and divide them against themselves. With all of this happening, I believe continuing to be pushed to accept the narrative would be a major flaw.
As it is our duty to help and protect our elected officials, we should instead stop and consider the long term consequences and precedent we are about to set by issuing this censure. Do we really want our representatives to be scrutinized this closely for posting public information for a 'potential victim' whose 'employment' status was undefined? Would that answer be different if the democratic party held the majority in our state and got to define who is a 'victim' or an 'employee'? How would a majority held democratic state use this as precedent to silence republican views points and information sharing? How does due process apply for legislators? These questions should cause a pause for reflection and would give me reasons to hold up on a hasty decision to censure.
Mark, I understand your points, many of which are valid, but I feel if we are truly looking out for Speaker Bedke, Representative Wood, and our party, we would be failing them by encouraging them to vote YES on the ethics committee's decision to censure Representative Giddings. I believe they should vote NO and take a moment to consider the future consequences of this decision and evaluate how the democratic party is influencing this situation.
Two Side Notes: 1) I have not seen a censure or denial of media credentials for the release by the media outlet of the young woman's identity. Is it possible that the Von Ehlinger ethics committee could be the real culprit in not protecting the supposed victims name by allowing it to somehow slip into the media’s hands? If I were a political opponent, I might keep that one in my notes for later. 2) If the house does ultimately vote to censure Representative Giddings that will mean that both she and former Representative Von Ehlinger will have been removed from the House Commerce and Resources Committee. If I was looking for intrusion points for liberal law and influence that might be a good place to start!